Returns-Line Photo by: Tom Jenkins (Tech Guy Tom)

Perceptions about something that's given and received don't always match up between the giver and the receiver.

This can happen not only in traditional gift giving situations, but it can occur in group and team settings where individuals are sharing and receiving creative ideas. One team member's self-perceived extreme creativity can become a team leader's nightmare when the ideas take hold even though they don't fit what the team's strategic objectives.

How can you minimize the awkwardness when this giving and receiving mismatch happens in a group setting with creative ideas?

Try applying these six creative thinking skills adapted from ideas for more successful gift giving and receiving to improve how creative ideas are shared and applied for everyone's benefit.

3 Creative Thinking Skills for Sharing Creative Ideas

If you are sharing creative ideas, think about these three points.

1. Ask strategic questions ahead of time

Invest time and effort to understand what types of creative ideas are needed and expected. That doesn't mean you have to be a creative order taker, but at least gain some idea of what creative expression will have the most significant impact.

2. Start with subtle creative ideas

This is definitely a personal preference to start subtle. If you're not sure how or where your creativity might be used, it could be better to offer your initial creative ideas in bite-sized chunks. Unless extreme creativity is expected from the start, consider playing it close to the creative vest on the first go around.

3. Don't over-explain creative ideas to fill silence

If you sense the creative ideas you're introducing to the team aren't resonating, the first instinct can be to fill any awkward silence with explaining. While that might make you feel better, it can also make it more difficult for the team to adapt and move forward with your creative ideas. Try sitting back and providing room to react without any further creative help.

3 Creative Thinking Skills for Receiving Creative Ideas

If you're on the receiving end of creative ideas from others, make sure you're receiving them in the best fashion possible.

1. Expect and plan for creative mismatches

If team members are familiar to one another, the team leader likely has a sense of which team members will offer creative ideas that are too big, too narrow, or too something else to work right away. A team leader can anticipate this and plan for how to handle creative ideas that don't match up with the team's immediate task.

2. Before anything else, express appreciation and gratitude

Step one when receiving off-the-mark creative ideas from a team member is expressing appreciation before judging. Find something to celebrate, praise, or comment on positively. If nothing else, say something innocuous and open-ended so you don't disaffect a team member who may be very sincere, but just a bit off with their creativity.

3. Try incorporating the creativity in some recognizable way

Even if the creative ideas offered aren't going to address your immediate needs, look for ways to give them some visibility as the team's effort progresses. Try to use some aspect of them so the originator experiences a sense of contributing to the team's progress.

The Gift of Creative Thinking Skills

It's relatively easy to return a white elephant gift you receive for Christmas. You can't return creative ideas though. That's where these suggestions provide a path to taking advantage of even the oddball creative gifts that come your way! – Mike Brown

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